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EasternQibla

Very Ancient Reference To Shia-Type Islam?

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Hi,

 

I had been wondering around on the Quranist forum http://www.free-minds.org/forum/ and was directed to a link referring to how non-Muslims viewed Muslims in the very early days. Some references from mainstream Christians in Persia are very striking. In particular listen to what patriarch Isho'yahb III of Adiabene (in modern day Iraq) wrote (he died 659AD/ 37AH):

 

 

As for the Arabs, to whom God has at this time given rule (shultana) over the world, you know well how they act towards us. Not only do they not oppose Christianity, but they praise our faith, honour the priests and saints of our Lord, and give aid to the churches and monasteries

 

http://www.christianorigins.com/islamrefs.html also

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isho%27yahb_III_of_Adiabene

 

Now here it is said that those Muslims honour the "saints of our Lord" (e.g. Companions of the Cave/7 Sleepers of Ephesus). When I read this I thought that this must be a reference to the antiquity of the veneration of saints/shrines that I have seen in Shia/Sufi Islam. This is such an early unbiased reference that it must have implications for Sunni Islam.

 

What are your thoughts on this?

 

Richard

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Hi,

 

I had been wondering around on the Quranist forum http://www.free-minds.org/forum/ and was directed to a link referring to how non-Muslims viewed Muslims in the very early days. Some references from mainstream Christians in Persia are very striking. In particular listen to what patriarch Isho'yahb III of Adiabene (in modern day Iraq) wrote (he died 659AD/ 37AH):

 

Now here it is said that those Muslims honour the "saints of our Lord" (e.g. Companions of the Cave/7 Sleepers of Ephesus). When I read this I thought that this must be a reference to the antiquity of the veneration of saints/shrines that I have seen in Shia/Sufi Islam. This is such an early unbiased reference that it must have implications for Sunni Islam.

 

What are your thoughts on this?

 

Richard

Greetings Richard,

 

Thoughts:

A Chronicler of Khuzistan (wr. ca. 660s)

"while Medina is named after Midian, Abraham's fourth son by Qetura; it is also called Yathrib." (Chron. Khuzistan, 38-39 [pp. 187-188])

Did you notice the mention of a fourth son of Abraham by a wife called Qetura?  I have never heard this before.

 

Isho'yahb III of Adiabene (d. 659)

"the Arabs have not compelled them to abandon their faith, but only asked them to give up half of their possessions in order to keep their faith. "

Only to give up half their possessions?

Edited by CLynn

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What's notable is that although the Islamic empires spread their rule and government, they did not coerce Christians and Jews out of their religions en masse. 1400 years after the Prophet (pbuh), we still have the same ancient Christian communities all over the Muslim world - notably Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. At the height of the Islamic golden age, Muslims even ruled Spain, Portugal, and much of France, and the Christians were not made to convert. Ancient Christian churches and shrines were mostly kept and even maintained by the Muslim rulers all over the world. Many of these shrines even became holy places for Muslims - the Church of the Sleepers of the Cave, the shrine of Abraham (as), etc. Despite our religious disagreements with Christians, Islam generally looks favourable upon them. Muslims enjoyed good relationships with Abyssinian and Yemenite Christians during the time of the Prophet (pbuh).

The anti-shrine obsession of Salafis is a fairly recent phenomenon. The Prophet (pbuh) was buried in his house, and no one thought to flatten his house. The Muslims even came across dozens of these ancient Christian and Jewish shrines, and have either left them in tact or adopted them into the Islamic tradition.

Edited by Qa'im

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Dear CLynn,

Did you notice the mention of a fourth son of Abraham by a wife called Qetura?  I have never heard this before.

 

 

 So what? 

 

Only to give up half their possessions?

 

 

Yes, I do know that Christian-Islam relations are not all 'lovey-dovey' as Islamic polemics paints them ...

 

Richard

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Qaiim,
 
Thank you for your post. 

The anti-shrine obsession of Salafis is a fairly recent phenomenon. The Prophet (pbuh) was buried in his house, and no one thought to flatten his house. The Muslims even came across dozens of these ancient Christian and Jewish shrines, and have either left them in tact or adopted them into the Islamic tradition.

I seem to remember reading in the Sunni commentator Ibn Kathir (born 702 AH / 1301 CE) that the Islamic use of shrines was a perversion taken from the Christians. (I have read all of Ibn Kathir, but my previous laptop died on me so I have lost all my notes!! I'm sure the reference could be found on-line somewhere if needed). 702AH is not recent. Then again, the quotation I found shows how early Muslims did use (can I say venerate?) shrines, thereby raising the thought that it must be authentic.

 

Richard

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Qaiim,

 

Thank you for your post. 

I seem to remember reading in the Sunni commentator Ibn Kathir (born 702 AH / 1301 CE) that the Islamic use of shrines was a perversion taken from the Christians. (I have read all of Ibn Kathir, but my previous laptop died on me so I have lost all my notes!! I'm sure the reference could be found on-line somewhere if needed). 702AH is not recent. Then again, the quotation I found shows how early Muslims did use (can I say venerate?) shrines, thereby raising the thought that it must be authentic.

 

Richard

 

One could say that an attachment to some of the shrines could be a perversion of the Prophet's teachings, though many of these shrines were encountered by the Prophet's companions just a few years after his death. So I think the general attitude of early Muslims was to respect the historical sites of other religions. After all, the ancient Egyptian monuments still remain, the Christian and Jewish temples and shrines remain, even many Hindu, Buddhist, and Zoroastrian sites remained. In the last century, however, Salafis have put attention on destroying such sites in fear of idolatry, and they've started by removing many monuments and shrines in Mecca and Medina. They've mostly targeted other Muslim places.

Edited by Qa'im

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^^ Muslims have ruled Afghanistan for a thousand years and it was only in the last decade that the statues of the Buddha at Bamiyan were destroyed.  We anti-Idolotry Muslims have had a thousand years to do it, but it only happened after the Salafis took over.  Shows you the general attitude vs the salafi attitude. 

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